A former Surrey foster child who credits his foster family with turning his life around is backing a new campaign to find more carers.
Lewis says his foster family gave him stability and a sense of self-worth which helped him achieve 12 GCSEs and a job he loves.
He said: “My early childhood consisted of neglect and physical abuse so when I came into foster care aged 11, I had no idea how to keep myself clean. My teeth were really bad and I was behind at school. Food was always an issue and my brother and I often had to steal from the local shop in order to eat.
“My foster carers were lovely and gave me a real sense of self-worth. They provided me with boundaries that I hadn’t had before, giving me the stability I needed to settle away from my birth family.”
He now works as a Children’s Rights Apprentice for Surrey County Council, supporting children and young people in care.
Lewis’s story features in radio adverts as part of a new county council campaign calling for more people to become foster carers.
With hundreds of Surrey children in foster care, the county council is always looking for more people willing to open their homes to vulnerable youngsters.
Also featured is Megan, who said: “At first I was so scared. I was 15-years-old and worried that I wouldn’t get along with my foster carers. Honestly it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. But after a few weeks I started to settle in and then everything was perfect.
“Now, five years on, I have my own place and a full-time job. I want to be a social worker, so I’m busy looking into courses. My foster family are still very much part of my life.
“I speak to them every week, spend Christmases with them and call them up if I need to have a moan about something. They’re my family now, no words can express how thankful I am for them and what they did for me.”
Mary Lewis, Surrey County Council’s Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Families, said: “The experiences of Lewis and Megan and so many others show how foster carers can really transform the lives of vulnerable children but we need many more of them in Surrey.
“We provide foster carers with comprehensive training and support and they are paid allowances for the care they give. I would encourage anyone who may have been considering fostering to get in touch and find out more.”